Right after I got there, I was staying in the Beverly Hills Hotel. I saw John Wayne in the lobby, and I was gawking at him. He said, “What’s your name?” He’d just seen Alfie. Wayne became a friend. He gave me advice, like: “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too fucking much,” and “Never wear suede shoes, because one day, Michael, you’ll be taking a piss, and the guy next to you will recognize you, and he’ll turn toward you and say, ‘Michael Caine!’ and piss all over your shoes.” I couldn’t make this shit up.
Tim O’Shea: Would you say with the 24/7 news cycle mixed with the fact PR people can no longer sweep heavy drinking under the table as easily, is the era of celebrity hellraising done to a certain extent?
Robert Sellers: I think so. Our hellraisers were lucky in that their misbehaviour was only witnessed by a select few, so tales of their debauchery have become almost mythologized. Today celebrities’ every involuntary movement is recorded on some tosser’s mobile phone and then put on You Tube in a time span that’s shorter than their dick.
O’Shea: What attracted you to documenting the partying ways of these four actors (Burton, O’Toole, Harris & Reed) in particular?
Sellers: These guy’s bad behaviour was laced with a bit of style and humour. Take the time O’Toole was refused a drink after hours so he simply pulled out his cheque book and bought the pub. There was a jaw dropping audacity about their pranks and a twinkle in their eyes that made the public forgive them almost anything, which you just don’t have with today’s celebrity yobs. Also, back in those wilder and better days drinking was very much a macho culture; a chap could hold his booze and all of these hellraisers could drink each other under the table. Today it’s almost a prerequisite to appear everywhere completely out of your head and hopeless. The new breed of bad boy is not terribly sophisticated. Burton et al could always turn on the charm, pissed or not; this new lot can hardly string a sentence together.